Apple AirPlay is an increasingly common and popular wireless speaker standard used in everything from the iPhone-maker’s own-brand HomePods to third-party products from the likes of Sonos and Naim.
There’s a good reason for this. Having reviewed AirPlay speakers since the tech was first unveiled, we can confirm it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to create multi-room setups if you’re embedded in Apple’s hardware ecosystem.
The sheer choice is great, but it’s also a double-edged sword for a couple of reasons. First, having AirPlay functionality does not guarantee the speaker will be any good. We’ve had plenty of speakers featuring AirPlay pass through our listening rooms that have failed to deliver in key areas, audio quality being just one of them.
You also want to be careful about what speaker you choose if you plan to add it to an existing system. Mis-pairing speakers can have a drastic impact on how they sound and work together even if they both have AirPlay. This is why we always recommend pairing speakers in the same family, like a Sonos Era 100 with a Sonos Era 300, or two Apple HomePod 2s, if you want the best results.
To help you find the best AirPlay 2 speaker for your specific needs and budget, we’ve created this guide detailing the top options we’ve tried and tested. Every smart speaker on this list has been sampled by our team of reviewers, both in our listening rooms and home environments, and we've made sure to check not only how well AirPlay functions but how each and every product functions as a speaker in its own right.
How to choose the best AirPlay speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
Size and aesthetics vary a lot here, so you'll need to make sure the speaker fits into the space you've allocated for them. Some, like the HomePod Mini or Sonos Era 100, are small enough to be flexibly placed anywhere in the house, while bigger models like the Naim Mu-so will need its own dedicated space on a rack.
That aside, you need to know the perks of opting for a speaker with AirPlay baked in. Thanks to AirPlay 2, multi-room playback is on the menu – and it is not limited to Apple-branded products, as the fantastic new Sonos Era speakers show. There's also the promise of improved audio buffering and multiple control access across iOS devices to acknowledge (a useful touch for multi-room streaming).
If you're not quite ready to give up one technology for the other, you will be pleased to note that most AirPlay speakers also offer Bluetooth and wi-fi, so you won't miss out on any functionality. Plus, it means you can use the product with non-iOS source devices.
If you want to keep your Apple Music experience entirely on brand, these are your best AirPlay speaker options for every budget.
If the HomePod 2 is too big for your living space but you still want a smart speaker to integrate into your Apple ecosystem, the HomePod Mini is your best bet. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it's tiny – easy to fit anywhere in your home. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy little performer on your hands.
Siri is your voice assistant, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you probably haven't heard before but which has been curated to fit in with your current listening habits and tastes. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and rival Alexa is nowhere near as good at it.
It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.
If your budget can't stretch to the bigger HomePod 2, this Mini is the best Apple-centric AirPlay speaker to put on your wishlist.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini
The HomePod 2 is the best AirPlay speaker made by Apple. It’s also one of the smartest you’ll find at this price.
If you love Apple tech and want a great-sounding smart speaker with room-filling audio, the HomePod 2 is almost certainly the best option we’ve tested. Apple's five-star model is the larger option in the Californian brand's current line-up, sitting above the smaller HomePod Mini in terms of weight and size. It's also one of the finest Apple products around today.
The HomePod 2's main draw is its ability to scan and optimise its audio settings for the room and position it's in on the fly, something which worked superbly during our own tests. Picking it from a place in free space and moving it close to a wall, our testers could hear it changing its settings in real time - mainly by reducing unwanted or unnecessary bass.
We were particularly impressed with how well the HomePod 2 dealt with SBTRKT’s Trials Of The Past in Apple Lossless, a very taxing track that most of the affordable smart speakers in this list struggle to deal with. Listening to it on the HomePod, though, was blissfully free of the sibilance we often encounter during tests.
Once set up, the in-built mics and smart features all worked perfectly. Siri universally heard and enacted our voice commands, even while music was playing and we were talking to the speaker from across the room. We were also hugely impressed by the built-in temperature and humidity sensors which can be used to create custom automations in your smart home.
From top to bottom, the HomePod 2 is the smart speaker to beat for dedicated Apple acolytes.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod 2
It seems that it isn't enough for the best wifi speakers to just deliver great sound and a decent array of features anymore. Ever since Apple's mighty HomePod 2 landed early in 2023 with its integration of spatial audio, the race has been on to see who could challenge the biggest dog on the block when it came to incorporating the much-vaunted tech into their own speaker designs.
Enter the Era 300, Sonos’ more expensive rival to the HomePod 2 looking to beat Apple at its own game. With its unique, “cinched hourglass” shape, there’s no question that the Era 30 is a bit more of an acquired taste than most of the brand’s rather more conservative designs. What’s not up for debate, however, is how superbly the five-star Era 300 manages to perform. In short, it is absolutely excellent.
The Era 300 sadly isn’t compatible with Tidal’s Dolby Atmos/spatial audio tracks, but if you’ve got Amazon Music Unlimited or Apple Music, spatial audio is supported. Better still, AirPlay 2 is also supported by the Era 300, alongside 24-bit/48kHz hi-res music support from Qobuz and Amazon Music services.
Throw whatever you like at the Era 300, chances are it has it covered, filling our testing rooms with cohesive, spacious sound without a hint of a struggle. Big choral numbers feel big and immersive thanks to spatial audio, but the Era 300 excels seemingly with all genres and across every taste from hip-hop to classic rock, soundtracks to folk. Yes, it’s considerably more expensive than a HomePod 2, but the Era 300’s great sound and AirPlay compatibility for iOS devices mean it’s comfortably earned its place on this list.
Read the full review: Sonos Era 300
As the name suggests, Sonos’ range of speakers promises a new ‘era’ for the American audio company. Released as the companion to the superb Era 300, the Era 100 keeps up with its bigger, more expensive brother in delivering a host of streaming playback features alongside another excellent-sounding speaker.
If you’re not keen on forking out the somewhat whopping £449/ $449/ AU$749 asking price for the Era 300, the Era 100 is a fine option as a wireless home speaker for your Apple device. Just like its heftier counterpart, the 100 delivers a big, open sound, a lovely sense of rhythmic drive and all the detail and precision you could hope for at this price point. The app is excellent to use, while Apple Music and AirPlay 2 support will allow it to excel with your chosen Apple device.
The only mark against the Era 100 is that the HomePod 2 arguably provides a more natural recreation of the human voice. Still, at a slightly cheaper price and with all the Apple compatibility you need, it’s very hard to go wrong with Sonos’ hugely talented Era 100.
Read the full review: Sonos Era 100
While the Apple HomePod Mini comes with all the company's signature technologies, if you want top-quality sound from an AirPlay 2 speaker – and have the budget for it – the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation is well worth a look.
You can now choose between an Olive, Terracotta or Peacock grille alongside the standard black, but the best tweaks Naim has made go far deeper. Remove whatever colour grille you've gone for and you'll discover upgraded and optimised midrange and bass drive units, all powered by a total of 300W of amplification.
Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up multiple 2022 What Hi-Fi? Awards for the best home wireless speaker over £500/ $500. Give it a listen and you'll realise how richly deserved such accolades are.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
The 2021 update (sensibly titled MkII) to the three-time Award-winning Audio Pro C10 adds AirPlay 2 and Google Cast to complete a multi-room home run – and snaps up a What Hi-Fi? 2021 Award to boot.
When we tested its older sibling, we pitted it against models almost double its price and found it bettered them. We’re happy to report that it's still the case today – if £500 / $500 is your maximum budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a speaker that comes close to the Audio Pro C10 MkII.
We sort of miss the fun leather handle and the sonic presentation of the original, but we can't argue with three options for multi-room streaming (AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Audio Pro's own slick and functional app) or the levelled-up grippy bass and improved hi-fidelity performance.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII
If you're looking for a do-it-all speaker system with AirPlay built-in, the KEF LSX II need to be on your shopping list. Not only do they look the part but they sound it too. Functionality and connectivity are excellent: besides AirPlay 2 you've also got USB-C and HDMI inputs to take advantage of plus high-res music playback, and the whole setup is controlled by KEF's impressive companion app.
The DSP software has been completely redesigned and the streaming platform is updated (and it’s now fully Roon Ready). The LSX II brings in a host of connectivity options alongside AirPlay 2, including wi-fi, Chromecast and Bluetooth, as well as a wide spectrum of streaming services like Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal. There are also new physical inputs in the form of HDMI ARC and USB-C connections for hooking up to a TV and laptop respectively.
If you have a smaller room or want speakers that will flank your desktop, the LSX II will happily oblige with a clear, musical sound. There's more than enough bass weight for average-sized rooms and the spread of sound you get from the Uni-Q driver array has to be heard to be believed. It's a talented package that has few, if any rivals at the money.
Read the full KEF LSX II review
The Series 3 has to be the best-sounding AirPlay speaker there is. It's also seriously, seriously expensive for a wireless box.
Part of that outlay goes towards Linn’s proprietary Exakt technology which aims to reduce phase errors by intentionally delaying higher frequencies so that they arrive at your ear at the same time as lower frequencies. It also keeps the music signal’s data in the digital domain for as long as possible to avoid any degradation caused by signal processing.
We’ve heard Exakt do its thing in many a Linn product before, and here it contributes again to an absorbing performance. What’s striking is the stunning midrange clarity and low-end agility which make the Series 3 a sharp performer and far more insightful than its more affordable competitors, too. If you're a purist for audio fidelty and a sucker for pin-sharp sound, the Series 3's whopping price tag will likely be the only thing standing in the way of an immediate purchase.
There's no Tidal Masters support, sadly, but there is an HDMI ARC socket which allows you to use the Series 3 for your TV sound. Swings and roundabouts.
Read the full review: Linn Series 3
Such is the breadth of choice when it comes to AirPlay speakers, you can spend under £100 or end up forking out well over £1000. The Mu-so 2's price tag will put off anyone looking to save money without sacrifice, but there's no issue with a product being costly if it has the chops to back it up. After all, a piece of audio, in fact anything you buy at all, is only expensive if its price isn't justified by the quality and innovation on offer.
The Mu-so's extensive feature set includes all manner of wireless streaming technologies such as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, whereas Streaming services like Tidal and Spotify are also supported as is high-res audio to the tune of 24-bit/88kHz. It's not just about streaming, though, with an HDMI ARC input allowing you to hook up a TV and boost its sound at the same time.
It's also a fantastic thing to behold, looking for all the world like a premium wireless speaker, its looks matched only by the rich, confident, detailed and rhythmically adept presentation of its sound. Bass is plentiful and high quality, and while that design won't be for everyone, if you like it, you'll fall for it in a big way.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
Audio Pro has never quite managed to become the biggest name on the hi-fi campus, but what the Scandinavian company has managed to do is forge a well-earned reputation as one of the finest purveyors of portable, upper-mid-range speakers around.
The Addon C3 is basically the wi-fi-enabled, multi-room version of Audio Pro's Addon T3. It has the same minimalist looks that the Scandinavian company is known for, complete with textured surfaces and an embossed leather carry handle, but the wireless tech adds a whole new dimension to your listening.
The Audio Pro Addon C3 does support all the main streaming services, though, including Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz and Apple Music, with playback controlled via the Audio Pro Control app for iOS and Android. It’s not quite the seamless experience offered by Sonos’ equivalent app, but neither is it seriously flawed.
Set-up is a painless process whether you choose a Bluetooth or wi-fi connection. When setting up a multi-room system, the app searches for other Audio Pro speakers in the vicinity on the same network, and you can then drag-and-drop from here to group or separate speakers, either in stereo pairs or multi-room zones, or else make manual adjustments to bass and treble.
Sonically, it's a belter of a speaker and a fine addition to any home set-up. The sound offered is mature, refined and textured, with an open, detailed delivery backed by a really impressive sense of rhythmic drive. At this price, the only thing we could really find to gripe about was a slightly clunky control app, but that's hardly the most fatal of fatal flaws.
Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C3
How we test AirPlay speakers
The What Hi-Fi? team tests hundreds of products every year – and that includes AirPlay speakers. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, UK, where our team of expert reviewers handles every step of the independent testing processes. This gives us complete control, ensuring consistency and impartiality.
Besides outright sound quality, we also test and evaluate every aspect of an AirPlay speaker's performance, including battery life, connection quality, ease of use, and versatility. It's very similar to the process involved in testing wireless speakers.
All wireless speakers are tested and reviewed in the context of their value on a performance-per-dollar basis, and as part of our testing procedure, wireless speakers are compared against similarly-priced class leaders to see how they perform and help us figure out an appropriate rating. Our review philosophy doesn't change based on price or brand reputation.
All products are tested in comparison with rivals in the same price category (often What Hi-Fi? Award-winners) and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure neutrality and consistency.
Finally, we choose the culmination of our efforts – the best products from all of our in-depth reviews – to feature in our Best Buys, which is where you are now. If you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
Check out our pick of the best smart speakers
And the best cheaper speaker deals
These are the 16 best headphones of the 21st century